BC Ferries to cut routes and senior discount, test slot machines between Island-Lower Mainland

Lower-usage runs to be reduced on most minor and northern routes, and pilot project will test slot machines on main routes.

BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan and Transportation Minister Todd Stone take questions on ferry service reductions at the B.C. legislature Monday.

BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan and Transportation Minister Todd Stone take questions on ferry service reductions at the B.C. legislature Monday.

VICTORIA – Sailing cuts are coming in April to most of BC Ferries’ minor and northern routes, as the corporation looks to save $18.9 million in the next two years.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone and BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan announced the reductions Monday, along with a plan to begin charging seniors half passenger fares that are currently offered free from Monday to Thursday.

BC Ferries is also planning a pilot project with slot machines on the main routes from Vancouver Island to the mainland, to test the revenue potential. Fare increases of four per cent and 3.9 per cent are to go ahead in the next two years, but Stone said the goal is to hold future increases to the rate of inflation or less after that.

“We heard loud and clear from people in the coastal communities … that fares cannot continue to escalate as they have, and people want the ferry service to be there,” Stone said.

Ferry reductions outlined by the ministry review will go ahead in next spring, after another round of consultations with coastal communities to look for schedule adjustments to make the remaining runs serve residents as effectively as possible.

The route reductions, feedback forms and a schedule of community meetings are posted at the review website. There are no further reductions proposed for the main Vancouver Island runs, but Stone said the ministry’s target is to find another $5 million in savings on those routes following reductions last year to the Tsawwassen-Duke Point route.

The cancelled runs are mostly early morning or late evening, many with passenger loads of 20 per cent or less. The largest reduction is a one-third cut to Port Hardy-Prince Rupert run, BC Ferries’ longest and most heavily subsidized service that lost $31 million on operations last year.

Other runs being cut include Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island, Comox to Powell River, Gabriola Island to Nanaimo and Quadra Island to Campbell River.

NDP ferry critic Claire Trevena said the service reductions will have an “outrageous impact” on communities such as Quadra Island where she lives.

“We’re already seeing people leaving communities because of the cost of the ferries,” Trevena said. “We’ve seen young families go, we’ve seen businesses in trouble, and this is just going to compound that.”

Long-term strategies include converting new ferries to natural gas fuel and exploring passenger-only private service to supplement BC Ferries sailings.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cumberland will be looking to a parcel tax to cover debt for its new water system. File photo
Cumberland plans for parcel tax to cover water debt

Parcel tax review panel would take place March 22, if necessary

G.P. Vanier in Courtenay has six members of the community who have tested positive; Island Health identified seven staff and 78 students who will be required to self-isolate. Black Press file photo
SD71 identifies eight positive cases of COVID-19 and instructs 108 people to self-isolate

The letter noted that all who have tested positive did not contract COVID-19 within the school sites

Geoff Garbutt takes over as City of Courtenay CAO on April 14. Photo supplied
Courtenay council selects new city CAO

A new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) will be joining the City of… Continue reading

Two vehicles collided Wednesday morning north of Courtenay on the Old Island Highway. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Two-car MVA north of Courtenay

Accident took place after 7 a.m. on the Old Island Highway

COVID cases in the Bella Coola Valley have dropped to just four active cases (file photo)
Comox Valley COVID spike the result of ‘a series of multiple social gatherings’

North Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns says the recent spike… Continue reading

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Port of Nanaimo has signed a 50-year-agreement with DP World around short-sea shipping operations at Duke Point Terminal. (News Bulletin file photo)
Lease ‘important first step’ in $105-million Nanaimo port expansion project

Port of Nanaimo and DP World sign 50-year shipping operations agreement for Duke Point

A BC Ferries worker out of Swartz Bay has tested positive for COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Swartz Bay ferry worker confirmed to have COVID-19

Employees in direct contact with worker now isolating

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The Town of Comox will formally examine speeding within the town. Black Press file photo
Comox to examine speeding within town

Following discussions at various council meetings, Comox council will formally examine speeding… Continue reading

A male customer without a face mask is seen inside a Burnaby Canadian Tire amidst an altercation with store security and staff members. (Video/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Man arrested after allegedly punching Burnaby Canadian Tire staff over mask rule

Mounties received reports Monday of a customer having punched more than one employee

Most Read